August W. Derleth House

Also known as: Place of Hawks
S10431a Lueders Rd., Sauk City, Wisconsin

A stone dwelling built by author August W Derleth, named for the title of a book

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Overview Looking Northwest

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in April 2017

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Description 

"Place of Hawks is a stone dwelling situated on a densely wooded tract of 10 acres on the southwestern edge of Sauk City, Wisconsin. It was built in 1939 by the regional author August W Derleth (1909-1971) as a combined home and studio. The property was named Place of Hawks by Derleth, who had previously published a novella of the same name. The site is unlike the one described in the novella, however. It is level prairie land, densely wooded with pre-settlement oaks, and plantings made by the German botanist and landscape gardener FGJ Lueders, who settled there in 1851. The house faces east from the center of the site on Lueders road. Derleth described it in Return to Walden West:

'At 30 I became a man of property. I bought for a thousand dollars—the sole capital I had managed to save from the scant earnings of my pen-the ten acres of the old Lueders homestead just over the western line of the village and across the road from the tree-naved cemetery....

'The property afforded me a retreat, a place of my own for contemplation and meditation. Though the highway was not far north of it, the trees shut it away, so that the sound of traffic always seemed more remote than it actually was.'

"During the 32 years Derlith lived at Place of Hawks he wrote all but eleven of his over 150 books, and uncounted articles and correspondence, prepared and taught courses in the English Department of the University in Madison, edited the products of his publishing house, Arkham House, and wrote columns for the Capital Times newspaper, sometimes as a guest writer, and sometimes as a regular columnist. By his own account, his "house of childhood" had ceased to exist. Place of Hawks was built specifically to house his writing career. Thus the house and its 10 acre setting are the property most significantly associated with Derleth, the literary figure.

"During the 32 years he lived at Place of Hawks he wrote all but eleven of his over 150 books, and uncounted articles and correspondence, prepared and taught courses in the English Department of the University in Madison, edited the products of his publishing house, Arkham House, and wrote columns for the Capital Times newspaper, sometimes as a guest writer, and sometimes as a regular columnist. By his own account, his "house of childhood" had ceased to exist. Place of Hawks was built specifically to house his writing career. Thus the house and its 10 acre setting are the property most significantly associated with Derleth, the literary figure.

"In Derleth's last major work, Return to Walden West, published in 1970, is a list of his works as he arranged them into a Wisconsin Saga (five books, including Bright Journey and The Wind Leans West.) The Sac Prairie Saga, (19 books, including Wind Over Wisconsin, Place of Hawks, Walden West, Return to Walden West, and Collected Poems,) and Others, (nine books, including The Milwaukee Road and Wisconsin Murders. Of his over 150 volumes, these thirty-three appear to be his own choice by which to be remembered."

Description condensed from National Register of Historic Places Registration Form prepared for the National Park Service. The application, dated March 5, 1990, was prepared by Jane Eiseley, historic preservation consultant.

For more about this site, follow the link below to find the document quoted above.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 30, 1991
Reference number
91000468
NR name
Derleth, August W., House
Architectural style
Modern Movement
Area of significance
Literature
Level of significance
State
Evaluation criteria
B - Person
Property type
Building
Historic functions
Single dwelling; Business
Current functions
Single dwelling; Business
Periods of significance
1950-1974; 1925-1949
Significant year
1939
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Non-contributing buildings: 1

Update Log 

  • May 7, 2017: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added Description and photo